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Chapter 1: The Great Illusion

And there are times when your false understanding is used in such a way that through your scholarliness only your foolishness is revealed more profoundly. The fool has a kind of innocence, a kind of simplicity about him. But a pundit? The foolishness of the pundit is very complex, very intricate. And if you have even a little insight into things you will see that it is difficult to find a bigger fool than the pundit. His foolishness shows in all directions. He has covered it well, but all that one covers only testifies that one is aware of it. All that we cover is exhibited too, because all our covering declares that something has been covered, that something was there worth covering. The ignorant and uneducated man who has not covered himself has the nudity of a primitive native; his nudity is unselfconscious, he is nude without knowing that he is nude. But the foolishness of the pundit is like the nudity of a prostitute, who is decked out in an array of splendid garments, but all the covering is only to display the nudity beneath.

The very reason for covering something is the fear of its exposure. If you can understand that verbal understanding is no understanding at all, then the first step has been taken. If you can know that knowledge derived from the scriptures is not knowledge, then the first ray of knowledge has descended on you. And then it won’t be difficult to put the scriptures away; then it won’t be difficult to detach yourself from the web of words and come out of it. Right now it is difficult because it appears as if it is understanding. If we hold pebbles in our hand and believe them to be diamonds, it is difficult to part with them - not because of the stones, but because of our belief that they are diamonds. The moment one comes to recognize that they are stones, that seeing them as diamonds was an illusion, then where is the difficulty in dropping them? With the recognition that they are stones, one will not have to drop them, they will simply drop from our hands on their own.

Let the stones of words fall away, then meaning will arise. In the realm of religion, meaning does not arise from words, meaning arises from no-word. Remove words, and the stream of no-word flows.

The river that flows through Pune gets covered with leaves and vegetation; greenery spreads all over so that the water is not visible. Your mind is just like that. Remove the leaves, and there is the flowing river beneath. Remove the words, and the river of meaning is hidden beneath.

It is not the same in all dimensions. When I say tree, you understand the meaning in an instant, and likewise when I say river or house or ocean, just hearing the word you catch the meaning. But when I say God or soul or enlightenment, you hear the word only; you do not know the meaning. I only have to say the word tree and you understand, because the tree is your experience too. The word indicates, and your own experience of it gives you understanding. I say ocean, and from your own experience you understand.

But imagine a man far away in the desert who has never seen the ocean, not even a picture of the ocean, and we say “ocean” to him; now, he has not the slightest idea what we mean. He hears the word, even tries to understand its meaning intellectually. We can even explain to him that just as this is a vast expanse of sand, so there is a vast expanse of water - this gives him an idea, he forms a concept, but still the experience of the ocean by a man who has seen it standing on its shores, who has entered the ocean and swum in it, who has been surfing in it, cannot be matched by any concepts of this man from the desert.

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